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story.lead_photo.caption SMU quarterback Ben Hicks (8) throws a pass in front of Central Florida defensive lineman Joey Connors (91) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

FAYETTEVILLE -- The University of Arkansas landed a graduate transfer quarterback it had been seeking Monday when former SMU standout Ben Hicks announced he would play his final year with the Razorbacks.

Hicks, 6-2, 220 pounds, will reunite with Arkansas Coach Chad Morris and coordinator Joe Craddock, who recruited him to SMU in 2015 out of Waco (Texas) Midway.

"The opportunity was too good of an opportunity, and I feel like it wasn't one I could pass up," Hicks said. "Come back and play for Coach Morris and coach Craddock and play in the SEC and try and help the Razorbacks and help the team win games."

Hicks said he planned to report to campus this week to enroll in classes during the first week of the spring semester. He will be eligible to participate in spring drills and compete during the 2019 season.

Hicks is SMU's all-time passing leader with 9,081 yards and 71 touchdown passes.

Morris said Hicks provides depth at the position.

"That's what we needed," Morris said. "It helps to have a guy that has been in this situation before and has climbed out of this situation that is fully understanding what it's going to take. A guy that is extremely knowledgeable about the offense and has been in it. He's got a lot of reps underneath his belt."

Morris said Hicks' role in helping the coaching staff teach the players more about the offense and his ability to relate with the status of Arkansas' program is important.

"He's been in these exact situations that we're in right now, coming off a 2-10 year and knowing the hard work it's going to take to put in to get the program out of it," Morris said.

Hicks wrapped up his weekend visit Sunday feeling good about his decision.

"I spent a lot of time with Coach Morris and Coach Craddock," Hicks said. "When I flew home [Sunday], I kind of knew in my heart that was where I needed to go and what I needed to do.

"They coached me for three years, and I enjoyed every minute of it and excited for another year of it."

The Razorbacks' quarterback situation has undergone an upheaval during the winter, with junior Cole Kelley already transferred to Southeastern Louisiana and senior Ty Storey having his name in the NCAA's new transfer portal.

Storey and Kelley combined for 11 starts in 2018. The Razorbacks still have scholarship quarterbacks in redshirt freshmen Connor Noland and John Stephen Jones, as well as redshirt sophomore Daulton Hyatt. Signee KJ Jefferson, a three-star prospect out of Sardis, Miss., is scheduled to start classes in the first summer session.

The Razorbacks missed out on Clemson graduate transfer Kelly Bryant, who opted to finish his career at Missouri. Morris said the search for signal callers never ends.

"As I've said before and said it many times, we're always in the quarterback market," he said. "That's every year. That's now for as long as I'll be here. We're always in the quarterback market."

Hicks opened SMU's 2018 season under new Coach Sonny Dykes as the starting quarterback, but briefly lost his job to freshman William Brown. Hicks completed 208 of 372 passes for 2,582 yards, with 19 touchdowns and 7 interceptions in 12 games last season.

Hicks also considered Louisville and Georgia Tech before selecting the Razorbacks.

Morris said he did not anticipate any more roster losses nor early enrollees this semester. The Razorbacks have 10 newcomers on campus who will compete in spring practices.

Classes at Arkansas began Monday, and the Razorbacks will have workouts beginning today, Morris said.

"We've had a lot of guys come back early and have already started their early conditioning," Morris said. "We had a team meeting last night, which was very effective. It wasn't too long, but it was to the point, to make sure we're all on the same page moving forward.

"We've got to grow closer as a team and continue to hold each other accountable and to build off of the growth that we had that happened last year."

Democrat-Gazette staff writer Richard Davenport contributed to this article.

Sports on 01/15/2019

Print Headline: Razorbacks land graduate transfer QB

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